A blast near the Chinese Consulate in southern Pakistan's port city of Karachi injured at least two people Monday. An explosive was planted on a motorbike parked near the building. No one has yet taken responsibility for the attack. On Saturday, 10 people died and 16 were injured when a suicide bomber struck a military compound in the northwest.
Forest fires blazing through northeast Spain have killed four people and left 24 others injured. A French man and his teenage daughter died yesterday when they tried to scale down a cliff into the sea to escape the flames in the Catalonia region. They were separated from other tourists running from the inferno in a coastal town on the border with France. Another Frenchman, aged 64, suffered severe burns and died on Monday. A 75-year-old man, also French, died from a heart attack in Llers, near Figueres. The fires currently cover an area almost twice the size of Manhattan, and are the worst the country has seen in more than 20 years.
Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel into space, died Monday aged 61 following a battle with pancreatic cancer, her foundation said. Ride first went into space aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama offered their condolences, saying they were “deeply saddened” by the news. "As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model," Obama said in a White House statement. "Sally’s life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve, and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come." Ride’s journey followed the 1963 flight by Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who became the world’s first woman to go into space.
A US drone has struck a suspected militant compound in the Shawal area of Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region, killing at least 12 people present at the compound, officials said. Two suspected fighters were wounded. The area is considered to be used as a hideout by Islamist militants fighting international troops in neighboring Afghanistan. The US drone strike campaign is highly unpopular in Pakistan, and the country’s government has repeatedly called for it to be halted. The US maintains that its campaign is within the framework of international law.
European foreign ministers said they would support the deployment of West African forces to Mali to stabilize the situation in the country. The announcement came a week after an EU decision to send an advisory team to neighboring Niger to train local security forces to fight terrorist and criminal networks. The EU has been increasingly concerned with the security situation in Mali, where Islamist militants have taken over much of the north of the country. Some of the Islamist groups are believed to have links to al-Qaeda. The situation in the country largely destabilized following a military coup against President Amadou Toumani Toure in March. Tuareg separatists in alliance with Islamist militants were soon able to take over the northern Azawad region. That alliance deteriorated in June, and Islamists took over most of the region.
A clash between Muslims observing the holy month of Ramadan and Hindus offering alms to one of their gods has left one man dead and 20 injured in northern India. The two sides hurled stones at each other, and a 22-year-old Muslim man was shot and killed in Bareilly town in Uttar Pradesh, AP reports. Police imposed a curfew on the area. The Muslims offering morning prayers on the second day of Ramadan were upset by Hindus who were singing on their way to a temple for a regular Monday ceremony, offering water and milk to Lord Shiva. Police are meeting with community leaders to defuse tensions.
Pakistan’s intelligence agency has been negotiating with militants over the release of the kidnapped son of an assassinated liberal politician, a senior official has said. Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said during a TV program on Monday that Shahbaz Taseer’s kidnappers are demanding a large ransom and the release of some of their colleagues. Taseer was abducted last August in Lahore. His father was killed by his bodyguard last year for criticizing laws that call for the death penalty for insulting Islam, AP reports. The Inter-Services Intelligence agency previously secured the release of the son-in-law of a former Pakistani army general after similar negotiations.
Iraq has rejected Arab League calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. "The Iraqi delegation put forward their reservation,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said, as cited by Reuters. “It is not usual for the ministerial council to ask someone to leave. This is the sole responsibility of the Syrian people and others should not interfere.” A meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Doha early on Monday offered Assad a "safe exit" if he stepped down swiftly. Iraq's Shiite-led government has called for reform in Syria rather than an end to Assad's rule.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has imposed an unprecedented series of penalties on Penn State, including a $60 million fine and the loss of all coach Joe Paterno's victories from 1998-2011 over the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Other sanctions include a four-year ban on bowl games, and the loss of 20 scholarships per year over four years, AP reports. The NCAA stopped short of shutting down the Nittany Lions' program completely. Sandusky, a former Penn State defensive coordinator, was found guilty in June of sexually abusing young boys.
The carcinogenic toxin Aflatoxin has been found in baby formula in China, an official said on Monday. The toxin was found in five batches of the Nanshan Bywise brand formula made last year by Hunan Ava Dairy Industry Co., a representative of Guangzhou Administration of Industry and Commerce General Office said. The five problem batches were boxes, bags or tins of powder manufactured between July and December of last year, AP reports. It is not clear if any of the problem formula was fed to babies. A low dose of aflatoxin is not considered harmful. Last month, Yili Industrial Group recalled an infant formula because it was tainted with "unusual" levels of mercury.
Russia's flagship carrier Aeroflot said on Monday it would terminate flights to Damascus from next month because of dropping demand for tickets. "We are shutting down this route for commercial reasons," the company’s press service said. The flights are ending on August 6. Passenger traffic fell due to the continuing armed hostilities in Syria. Russia's largest airline is currently operating two round-trip flights to Damascus per week.
A Saudi court has released five women who allegedly have links with Al-Qaeda, an official said on Monday. "Five women held on security charges have been released based on judicial orders in two different cases," Interior Ministry spokesman Mansur al-Turki told AFP. He said the move was unrelated to demands made by captors holding a Saudi diplomat. Two of the women were freed one month ago “because they were pregnant,” and three others were released on bail early this week. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula abducted Abdullah al-Khalidi, Saudi Arabia's deputy consul in Yemen's city of Aden on March 28, in a bid to secure the release of female prisoners and collect a ransom. Khalidi had repeatedly asked Saudi King Abdullah to secure his release by freeing the prisoners.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to fragment Israel's main opposition party on Monday by wooing some of its lawmakers to rejoin his governing coalition. He managed, however, to win over only four Kadima Party lawmakers days after the bloc left the coalition. The premier’s actions prompted Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz to ask parliament's permission to expel the four would-be defectors from the party's parliamentary faction. “Anyone who wants to receive political bribery” should leave, he said, as cited by AP. Under Israeli law, at least seven defectors are needed to split from a party to create a new parliamentary faction.
The Syrian government has said its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons are secure and will not be used against its citizens. "No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, and I repeat, will never be used, during the crisis in Syria,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said on Monday. “All of these types of weapons are in storage and under security and the direct supervision of the Syrian armed forces and will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression,” AP quoted him as saying. Syria reportedly has nerve agents and mustard gas, as well as Scud missiles capable of delivering lethal chemicals. Israel fears its enemies could access Syria's chemical weapons following Assad's fall.
Tehran's forces have full control over the Gulf's strategic Strait of Hormuz, a top Iranian naval commander said on Monday. Adm. Ali Reza Tangsiri, acting commander of the Revolutionary Guard naval forces, also said that the country has no plans to close Hormuz, the route for one-fifth of the world's oil. "Enemies regularly say Iran is seeking to close the Strait of Hormuz,” Tangsiri was quoted by IRNA as saying. “But we say that it would be unwise to close the strait while Iran is using it.” Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait. Last week, a group of Iranian lawmakers recommended that the government close the waterway. However, the parliament has not taken any action on the issue.
Britain’s senior officer behind the probe into the phone hacking scandal has said her force is investigating more than 100 allegations of data intrusion. They include computer hacking and the illegal accessing of medical records, Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers said on Monday, as cited by AP. The scandal erupted last year after it emerged that journalists at Rupert Murdoch's newspapers had eavesdropped on phone conversations. The investigative team is working with a huge mountain of data to find evidence for the claims, Akers told a judge-led inquiry into media ethics.
Moscow's Khamovnichesky Court has scheduled the hearing for the ‘Pussy Riot’ punk group case for July 30. Judge Marina Syrova said on Monday that the hearing will be open to the public, RIA Novosti reports. Member of the all-women group have been held in custody since March. The women have been accused of staging a guerilla performance in the Russian Orthodox Church’s main cathedral in Moscow. The court on Friday ruled to extend the current term of detention for the accused until January 12, 2013.
Security along Jordan’s northern frontier has been tightened, the country’s King has said. Abdullah II told a Cabinet session late Sunday that government’s plans to protect the border were “moving in the right direction.” The northern region was secured against “any infiltrations." AP quoted government spokesman Sameeh Maaytah as saying. Syrian refugees fleeing violence will still be allowed to enter Jordan. The country currently hosts more than 140,000 Syrian refugees. The first refugee camp for Syrians coming from the north could be opened this week, the UN refugee agency said. Washington will give Jordan an additional $100 million to help cope with the influx of refugees.
EU foreign ministers are endorsing a plan on Monday that would enforce the existing arms embargo on the Syrian government. The member states will be asked to board ships and aircraft carrying suspicious cargo to the war-torn nation. The embargo is an attempt to prevent weapons from reaching Syria, according to Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign police chief. The proposed inspections will only take place in the territorial waters of EU states. The EU banned weapons exports to Syria in May last year. Until now, the 28 member nations had the right to decide whether or not to inspect cargos in line with the embargo.
An Afghan policeman has killed three foreign NATO contractors at a training center in the western province of Herat. The attacker, who was wearing an Afghan security force uniform, shot them on Sunday, NATO and Afghan officials said. The gunman was killed in the incident, the International Security Assistance Force said in a statement. An anonymous Afghan official said two Americans had been killed in the attack near the Herat airport, AFP said. The Taliban earlier claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, while others have been blamed on cultural differences and antagonisms between Afghan soldiers and their Western counterparts.
Egypt is allowing Palestinians free entry into the country, Egyptian airport officials say. The move will make it possible for Palestinians to freely leave Gaza, ending part of a five-year blockade. The decision also applies to Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, AP reports. The blockade of the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas, was imposed after the movement took control of Gaza by force in 2007. Palestinians were permitted free entry at Cairo International Airport for the first time on Monday. Seven Palestinians entered Egypt without the usual security clearances and visas.
Authorities in Nepal have said that 15 people were killed when a passenger van drove off a remote road and plunged into a river in western Nepal. The driver of the van lost control of the vehicle during heavy monsoon rainfall on Sunday night, AP reports. The van reportedly rolled 200 meters and plunged into the Dhadha River near Narpani village. Police say 15 bodies were found. Last week, at least 55 people were killed in two accidents in Nepal.
Ten independent experts investigating Japan's nuclear disaster say that Tokyo Electric Power Co. has tried to understate the true amount of damage at the complex. The report published on Monday said the utility has yet to address problems within its own culture, including employees "not fully trained to think for themselves" The panel said TEPCO covered up unfavorable data in a computer analysis attempting to measure the extent of damage inside the reactors earlier this year, AP reports. TEPCO officials acknowledged the simulation was inadequate. Employees of TEPCO's nuclear department demonstrated expertise in emergency equipment, but many failed to speak up when it was most needed during the crisis.
A wave of bombings targeting homes and emergency responders has killed 28 people north of Baghdad, officials say. Bombs were planted around five houses in Taji, a Sunni town located 20 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital, killing 17, according to police. A suicide bomber then detonated his explosives-rigged belt once emergency workers rushed to the scene, killing 11 policemen, AP reports. A medic at Kazimiyah hospital in northern Baghdad confirmed the casualties.
A Batman mask has been found inside the apartment of the man suspected of killing 12 people at a premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colorado, a law enforcement official told AP on the condition of anonymity. Authorities have cleared the apartment of 24-year-old James Holmes of dangerous materials and homemade explosive devices, but continue the search for evidence in the shooter’s premises. Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said that Holmes is not cooperating with authorities and it could take months to determine his motives.
US President Barack Obama has traveled to Colorado on Sunday to comfort the victims of James Holmes, the gunman who killed 12 people and wounded 58 during a Denver-area movie screening. "The entire country will be there in prayer and reflection today," Obama said in a televised address. Obama has also met privately with the victims' families. "I tried to reassure them that although the perpetrator of this evil act has received a lot of attention over the last couple of days that attention will fade away," he commented on his meetings with the victims. "What people will remember will be the good people that were impacted by this tragedy." Meanwhile a makeshift memorial sprang up in the town of Aurora, with thousands across the country joining the mourning.
The US military's latest transport aircraft, the MV-22 Osprey, have arrived in Japan’s city of Iwakuni on Monday despite protests over safety concerns. Protesters in Iwakuni and on Okinawa claim the planes are not safe, and urge the authorities to scrap the deployment plan. The US military plans to fully deploy aircraft on Okinawa in October once they are assembled and undergo maintenance checks. The Osprey is a hybrid aircraft with rotors that allow it to take off vertically. In June, a US Air Force CV-22 Osprey crashed in Florida injuring all five crew members. In April, an MV-22 Osprey crashed in Morocco, killing two.
Thousands of Mexicans marched through the capital on Sunday to protest against the election of President Enrique Pena Nieto. Protesters accuse Nieto of vote-buying and bribing the mainstream media in exchange for favorable news coverage during the election, calling Mexican television giant Televisa a "factory of lies." According to the official count, Nieto won the election by 6.6 points. The final count must be certified by the Federal Electoral Tribunal in September.